St Kilda Road is not a precinct known for its quality food. Sure, there’s Cafe Vue up near Fawkner Park, but for the many office workers and apartment dwellers along the boulevard, getting a decent meal on St Kilda Road itself is essentially a lost cause. Bakini, which opened in March, is trying to change this, offering an intriguing option along the strip.
Situated at the bottom of an apartment development, Bakini may be a bit lacking in atmosphere, but the modern Italian food coming out of the kitchen rises above expectations for the area. The operative word here is shiny – surfaces gleam and wine glasses sparkle as the micromanaged service hums around you.
The interior is leant a measure of character by the entirely open kitchen. More than the standard window overlooking the dining room, Bakini’s kitchen is truly open to the restaurant – no doors or walls of any kind separate it from the dining area. Not only does this mean there’s no screaming in the kitchen, but it allows for a front row seat to watch the chefs do their thing.
In the kitchen is head chef Richard Wills, formerly of The Point, and sous chef Simone Righetto, fresh off the boat from Italy and two Michelin-Starred Gambero Rosso. Initially the menu focused on traditional, regional Italian cuisine, but in the couple of months since Bakini opened has evolved to take on a more modern bent. The beetroot-cured ocean trout with radish, avocado and mandarin is light yet flavourful, the bright colours bouncing off the plate. Pasta is handmade daily, the house speciality being the indulgent beetroot-filled caramelle served with a rich gorgonzola sauce.
While we’d recommend foregoing the coffee (perhaps head round the corner to Dukes on Chapel Street instead), dessert is worth sticking around for – perhaps try the apple sponge with persimmon puree and cinnamon quill.
While Bakini might not be setting the culinary world on fire, under the guidance of two talented young chefs, they’re pumping out decent food and bringing a bit of interest to an otherwise barren food landscape.
568 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
(03) 9521 7774
Mon to Sat 7am–11pm